Jazz – what is it? We just don’t know. However, we do know that getting people to come out to see us perform jazz can be a challenge at best. Even the crème de la crème of the jazz scene can struggle to bring in a crowd. It’s been said that Vancouver punches above it’s weight class regarding the musical offering the scene presents, but, the live music scene in Vancouver, particularly le jazz, still struggles. So, what is there to do about it?
I’ve spoken to many music individuals about this phenomenon. Most of these interactions got me opinions that correlated the expensive costs of living in Vancity to the issue, and what exactly that means for the common musician: long hours of work and still very little money which figures to no time and no coin for partaking in the live music festivities of fellow musicians. But there was another point – where was the civilian audience? What I mean is, off-duty musicians shouldn’t be the only demographic in the venues and though most civilian audience members probably endure the same financial formula as the musician, what about the workers in this city who are financially comfortable? Surely there must be workers in our financial district that have a hankering for the very same jazz that goes along with the fancy and unaffordable bars and lounges that are sprinkled around Coal Harbour and beyond? Instead, most of these spaces are blasting pop radio or club beats that are difficult to hold a conversation over and I would argue possibly NOT what the overworked office human wants to be bombarded with after getting harassed all day by their superior. Just saying.
This brings us to another point that was made constantly – the venues. We know that live music venues are dying out like the do-do, or at least the non-underground ones. Ol’ Faithfuls like the Backstage Lounge on Granville Island are getting aesthetical face lifts, and in the process cutting out any opportunity for future live music in the space.
So this Fall, the hot topic of the Sister Jazz Blog will be to investigate why it can be so difficult to get and keep an audience. I welcome you to comment below with your own opinions and insights into this strange phenomenon.